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The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law

Employees are protected from retaliation for filing discrimination claims such as a complaint with the EEOC or the DOL. That protection starts as soon as the employee lets someone in authority at the company know he’s going to contact the agency.

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Two Durham police officers are being investigated for allegedly posting racially charged comments about President-elect Barack Obama on their MySpace web pages in the days following the election.

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It’s easy to understand why supervisors and managers get upset when one of their subordinates files an EEOC complaint. After all, how can you not take it personally if someone says you discriminated based on race or sex or for some other illegal reason? But the worst thing those managers and supervisors can do is punish the subordinate.

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You may not realize it, but your organization may be contributing to identity theft by failing to safeguard personal information such as employees’ names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Any one of those breaches could violate the North Carolina Identity Theft Protection Act.

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Companies that self-administer their ERISA benefits plans, take note: Because your benefits decisions carry an implied conflict of interest (since rejecting a request for benefits such as retirement or payment of a medical bill means spending fewer company assets), courts expect your decisions to be transparent and based on good documentation.

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Poor performers who think they have been discriminated against when fired, demoted or otherwise disciplined can still win a lawsuit—if they can show that others outside their protected class were just as lousy but didn’t receive the same discipline. Be ready to defend yourself with solid, carefully documented proof…

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Although North Carolina is an at-will employment state—that is, employees can be fired for any reason or no reason at all as long as it is not a reason prohibited by law—that doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions. One of those is the so-called “public policy” exception, which allows employees to sue for wrongful discharge if their firings violate North Carolina public policy.

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North Carolina teachers reporting to school this fall found their state-awarded bonuses cut by 30%. Hundreds appealed to state Sen. Steve Goss, a former teacher, for help.

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Two dozen civil rights groups signed a letter calling for the resignation of Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell, following an article in the Raleigh News & Observer in which Bizzell lamented the influx of “drunk Mexicans” who “rape, rob and murder” American citizens and are “breeding like rabbits” in his county.

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It takes more than a written policy to avoid liability for sexual harassment. But if you back up your policy with regular training and reminders and quickly fix any harassment problems that come to your attention, chances are you won’t be liable unless the harasser was a supervisor and the employee suffered an adverse employment action …

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